PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The projected patient influx to Oregon hospitals in the coming week — if the inflection rate continues — will cause a significant surge and a shortage of personal protective equipment thoughout Oregon, the Oregon Health Authority said Thursday.
The pandemic will also affect food security and distribution along with shelter.
Gov. Kate Brown’s Joint Task Force for Health Care Systems Response to COVID-19 presented some information at a 1 p.m. briefing. Dr. Dean Sidelinger and Dr. Dana Hargunani of the Oregon Health Authority presented their latest projections on coronavirus infection and hospitalization rates in the state.
The doctors said if we lifted social distancing we could see an estimated 15,000 people sick with COVID-19 by May 8.
Right now their focus is on distributing supplies for the health care system. The National Guard has 40 ventilators for use in hospitals. Recently 500,000 surgical masks were purchased and got donations of 200 units of masks and gowns.
But until it gets distributed, those on the front line are being told to conserve their personal protective equipment.
“Hospital leaders and health leaders are doing their part to find beds, secure supplies, protect health care workers,” Hargunani said. “Oregonians, continue to stay home and save lives.”
Sidelinger said these projections “tell us that the sacrifices these Oregonians are making right now can help to save lives. At the same time, they paint a dark pictures of what can happen if we don’t all work together. We can’t afford to drop our guard.”
Officials are working on optimizing hospital capacity and mobilizing the necessary health care workforce. And the best thing people can do to flatten the curve is stay home and practice social distancing.
Providence Portland Medical Center told KOIN 6 News they’ve been fortunate to receive many PPE donations from dental offices, private companies and even the University of Portland. But with COVID-19 cases expected to increase, they still need more.
Infinity Images is a digital printing shop in Portland. On Thursday, the business delivered 1,000 medical face shields to Providence Portland. Employees were able to assemble them in just two days. A worker suggested the idea on Monday after realizing the company had the machinery to make the much-needed masks.
“They’re our last line of defense to be able to protect us, so we needed to step up and protect them,” said Derek Inkens, who works in sales.
Inkens said he was happy to load the boxes into his truck and deliver them to the medical center.
“It’s a matter of everybody doing their part; everybody doing what they can,” Inkens said.
Inside the stats
Officials said they’ve done 7269 tests and found 316 had positive results. Of the 316 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Oregon, 189 were in people older than 50.
Slightly more women than men (170-144) were diagnosed with COVID-19. Overall, only 90 of them were hospitalized.
The percentage of visits to doctors for COVID-like symptoms has spiked dramatically since March 4.
Gov. Jay Inslee said it’s important to realize this way of life could go longer than anyone would like.
“It is very clear that we need to bend our shoulders to the task,” said Inslee. “We are only in the first two weeks and people need to understand [the order] may be extended. We cannot let up on this virus.”
Even if the infection rate begins to look more promising in some areas of the state, it’s important to ensure the virus does not have a chance to come back once any stay-at-home orders are lifted.
“As to when we reduce some of the requirements — clearly it’s not now and not in the upcoming days. These numbers will continue to rise. We have to contain this until we are positive this virus is not going to come roaring back,” said Inslee. “That is a distinct possibility. I’m letting people know this order may go beyond two weeks and they have to be prepared for that.”